Sunday, 7 March 2010

Supporting Familes Through the Downturn

Last week, I visited Esher Citizen's Advice Bureau (see below), which covers a large area across Elmbridge. I was briefed by Linda Wheatley on the daily local problems they are seeing during the economic downturn. For February 2010, they have witnessed a 35% increase in the total number of problems reported, compared to the same time last year. Housing issues increased by 66%, debt problems increased by 26% and the 'relationship' caseload increased by a staggering 185%.

Most relationships are not built on monetary calculations, but financial pressures clearly put additional strain on families. There are also perverse incentives in the tax and welfare system. As a result of the 'couple penalty', the average married couple is £12k better off - each year - if they split up. A Conservatives government will do far more to support families - the best social safety net we have. For a start, we will freeze council tax for two years, abolish stamp duty for first time buyers on homes up to £250k (to help young families onto the housing ladder), and recognise marriage and civil partnerships in the tax system.


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